Galway farmers are demanding development prices for lands that the County Council require to carry out vital extensions to cemeteries.
And it has been suggested that Galway County Council embark on the compulsory purchase of lands that are needed to extend graveyards in situations where no agreement can be reached with landowners.
It was stated that people have the right to be buried in their own area and if land is required to extend cemeteries, then Galway County Council should consider going down the CPO route.
The suggestion was made at a meeting of Athenry-Oranmore Municipal Council when it was said that the graveyards in Claregalway and Annaghdown were close to being full and they needed to be extended.
It was then that Claregalway’s Cllr Malachy Noone expressed concern that landowners were looking for too much money when it came to selling property for the purposes of extending graveyards.
The Fianna Fail councillor pointed out that the land where Claregalway Cemetery is currently located was acquired back in the late 1960s by CPO and there was no reason why this process could not be used again.
“Some of the landowners are looking for money that would be close to development prices and that is not sustainable.
“People want to be buried in their own area and that is very understandable and equally the Council cannot pay exorbitant prices for land so there is nothing wrong with going down the route of issuing a CPO in order to extend a graveyard,” Cllr Noone added.
Cllr James Charity (Ind) was in agreement with embarking on the CPO process so that an independent arbitrator could be appointed to agree a value of the property involved.
“We have a crisis situation. There is no doubt about that. But the Council also have to be realistic in their approach to acquiring lands to extend graveyards.
“Gone are the days when people will donate lands for graveyard extensions to they have to approach the matter in a realistic way and the appointment of an independent arbitrator to come up with a fair price for the land.
“If an arbitrator was appointed, then it increases the likelihood of agreement being reached between both parties,” Cllr Charity added.
Chairman Cllr Frank Kearney said that space was rapidly running out at the cemeteries in Claregalway and Annaghdown as well as dozens of other graveyards around the county.
However, he was not convinced that the issuing of compulsory purchase orders was the way of tackling this issue.
He said that the Council would not be comfortable with issuing CPOs to extend graveyards and believes that other options should be teased out before adopting such a strategy.
Cllr Noone, who was attending his last area meeting given the fact that he is not standing for re-election, asked that the crisis involving cemeteries be discussed at the first meeting of the new Council in June.